This day I wake early, faff a bit, clean something, clear another. I like a tidy home. It was never tidy when I lived with a husband who didn’t do ‘tidy’. He scoffed, and said, oftentimes, that he considered it an affliction, like exzema or asthma. Even if it didn’t look like it I did honestly try to outrun his scoffing but it had faster legs and was canny. It could hide in corners and wait for my back to be turned. And it was very successful. In the end I gave up, to a degree, focussing on my innate skills and gifts and, to be honest, clearing up has never been one of those, even if I did, over time, morph into the extension of a broom, a mop or a dishcloth for decades.
I know what is happening later and I am so excited about the happening later thingy. Just a few weeks ago I would have cancelled. I know I would. I was very into cancelling and not just through lockdowns but way back into the caring years when I had lost myself. Everyone does, I hear it through the mouths of others, their tongues working out the consonants and verbs and pronouns and careful, so careful to halt the flood of emotion that could turn any sentence into a grammatical flood of nonsense. I can ride that flood with them, that wave, even if the words follow no particular order. I know, and yet I have no idea, how they feel. All loss and grieving is different, even if the name is the same. Mother. Father. Brother. Sister. Husband. Wife. And, God forbid, Child. But we can go into the rapids together, we can understand, to a degree and by more degrees than those who have not experienced such deaths.
There is a meeting of Bereaved Carers. How brilliant it that! The only people in the room will be, well, bereaved carers. I feel both safe and excited to meet whoever comes. I know the facilitator and she is like a sparkle, so we are all safe. We have a room to ourselves. We can talk out all the shit we feel, or not. We can go into awful detail without wondering if the rest of the room will barf and run. We know each other even if we don’t know each other at all. We drink tea, well they do, but it is strong coffee for me. A teapot lands on the table, a fat bellied old fashioned Derby, I guess, and it is warming, just the look of it. I managed to lose a teapot, I speak out loud. Me too, says another. How did we do that? We think in a communal sort of think. Well, I say, I reckon I must offered my teapot for a bigger group one day and then forgot to collect it. She, with the twinkly eyes and barely a wrinkle on her face nods. Maybe, she says, and we laugh. Actually we laugh a great deal, about caring, about death, about loss and emptiness. We laugh about the slow movement of time, the way we fill in the hours, the way we coped in the thick of caring.
It is delightfully freeing. I am certain each one of us leaves feeling humbled. There was she who dealt with that. She who coped with this, and not just once. There was the one who dipped and lifted, faltered and regained footing over a very long time. We may not see each other for a while but we will all remember this day and think of each other. Each one of us will remember the laughs, the gallows humour, the private sharing that will help us to heal lonely wounds. And, all thanks to the intuitive support we are offered. The Mother Hen. Argyll Carers. Support through caring, through the horrors, not afraid to take whatever gets yelled down the phone or straight to face.
I think we are very very blessed.